Twenty-Four: Radio Daze (Houston to Marshfield)

Miles: 71

Total: 1,643

About 10 miles in I saw a second fire tower. This time, I admired its majesty from the ground and finished off a bag of Cheetos rather than trot to the top. There’s not much between Houston and Hartville. Bendavis is halfway between and offers a convenience store, which was conveniently closed. The sign says open, but the doors say locked. I filled my bottles off the outdoor spigot and pushed on.

A strong and sustained wind came out of the south today. Because I’m headed west, it’s mostly a crosswind. But it did feel nice the two or three times I jogged north for a half-mile to make a turn. Closer to Marshfield, I stopped to watch a farmer-topped tractor pulling a baler. Down the lane, like a vacuum cleaner, then stopping every so often to dispense a big round. I’ve seen a lot of bales along the route, but never a baler in action. Likely the most exciting part of my on-bike day. Not every day can be full of pancakes and 84-million-gallon-a-day springs, you know.

Camp tonight is Webster County’s Fairgrounds, in Marshfield. Edwin Hubble was born here. As I was resting under the Centennial pavillion, Don Greer came by and introduced himself. He invited me across the street to another pavillion where his ham radio group (MAARS)¬†was taking part in field day, the ham-organized fourth Saturday in June where everyone tries to talk to everyone else. It’s for fun, for testing, for seeing how many operators you can reach and for practice. These guys have matching trucker caps, perfectly perched on the very top of their heads.

Amid the Morse code, MAARS reached Australia, Canada and a bunch of domestic folks. Don explained a little radio theory to me, including the idea of an EME transmission, which bounces signal off the moon. We were having such a good time we neglected to check the radar and barely pulled down and rolled up all the cable antennas down before a big line of storms hit. Don told me to come across to church for coffee and cookies around 9 a.m. if I was still around.

I managed to stay dry under the pavilion. There’s a shower with a hot and cold taps, but couldn’t coax any hot H2O out. It’s just me tonight, well me and a pigeon.